Cr Paul Amos is calling for a crucial detail regarding the airport lease to be made public.
Cr Paul Amos is calling for a crucial detail regarding the airport lease to be made public.

Cr calls for end to secrecy on length of airport lease

A COFFS Harbour City councillor is calling for the proposed length of the airport lease to be made public immediately.

Cr Paul Amos intends to move the motion at this evening’s council meeting, stating that these details should no longer be classified as commercial in confidence with lease negotiations now reaching a crucial point.

“The proposed lease length should now be available to the public. This disclosure will have no impact on the lease negotiations now,” Cr Amos said.

This comes after a motion from Cr Amos, Cr John Arkan and Cr Tegan Swan calling on council staff to investigate the possibility of having a 50-year lease option was rejected last month.

They were also calling for more information on the advantages of keeping the airport in council’s hands, and the control council would have over operating hours, flights paths and arrival and departure times under a long-term lease.

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The councillors wanted to have the decision to progress the airport lease to the negotiations stage with the preferred bidder reversed, in order to allow for these further investigations – stressing that they believed the council was not getting “a good deal.”

“We are potentially getting ourselves into a situation where we are doing our community out of a lot of future revenue and opportunity,” Cr Tegan Swan said.

The councillors’ rescission bid was however defeated following the mayor’s casting vote.

Council staff have provided a response on Cr Amos’ latest call for the length of the airport lease to be made public, stating that council’s advisor KPMG Australia does not recommend the disclosure of this information at this ‘sensitive’ stage of negotiations.

The advisor stated that any information about the process being made public at this point would “materially impact CHCC’s commercial position in those negotiations and discussions.”

They further added that a communication strategy will need to be prepared to ensure “appropriate messaging” is provided to the public if negotiations with the preferred bidder are successful.

The issue will be discussed at tonight’s council meeting.